|Eyes on the ball...bang! Back of the net!|
There was no doubting the good fortune surrounding Charlton's second bite of the cherry against hapless Doncaster Rovers in this rearranged fixture, and thankfully, Powell's men were in no mood to waste their luck on a chilly night at the Valley.
Charlton let a number of good chances slip from the outset with Church the worst offender with an opportunity inside the opening minutes he should have done better with. Kermorgant hit the base of the post with a trickling left footed shot that had the excellent Turnbull surprisingly flat-footed. Johnnie Jackson forced a top class save from Turnbull moments later, but just when you began thinking it was going to be 'one of those nights', Stephens took centre stage.
Taking advantage of a poor defensive clearance following a decent Charlton move down the right, Stephens struck a full volley (above) that couldn't have been hit any sweeter. The roof of the Valley lifted as the ball thundered into the net. If you get a chance to watch the footage of the goal that was doing the rounds on twitter last night then just watch Jackson's reaction as the ball goes in. Rather than reeling away in delight he drops his head in his hands in disbelief. Priceless moment from our skipper! He later joked he had a few quid on himself to bag the first goal...
We may not have scored many this season, but we certainly have a few nominations for 'goal of the season', for sure. Half time, 1-0. Worryingly it should have been 4 or 5.
Second half was much the same, with Charlton going close with numerous chances. In particular, the ever-improving Stewart tried to upstage Stephens with a wonderful shot that rattled the bar. Before that Church had eased Charlton's nerves with a well taken goal after being put through one-on-one with the Doncaster 'keeper. I was so pleased for Church. You would have to watch him regularly to really appreciate just how hard he works for the team and nobody deserved a goal more last night. He is fast becoming my favourite current player.
Church could and should have had a second...but we won't mention what happened there!
In the end it was a heart-warming team performance and a tough one to call for MOM. The two players who particularly stood out for me were Cousins, who was excellent in centre-mid and Church up top. A special mention for Ben Alnwick, who finally made his debut for Charlton after Hamer went down injured in the warm-up. He never had much to do (one diving save to his left in the second half the highlight), but considering he's been sat on the bench since he arrived, he looked confident and capable considering the circumstances of him being thrown in late on. There's something about this fixture and making the most of your opportunities no matter how they come about.
The official gate was noted as just over 14,000, but horrendous train problems would have prevented many fans and season ticket holders from getting to the game so the real figure would have been much lower. Fair play to the few hundred Doncaster Rovers fans who made the journey down again. I bet you're hoping we don't meet in the 3rd round of the FA Cup at the Valley?
There's still a certain novelty factor to seeing Charlton win at the Valley. Hopefully we can begin to view victories differently if we can finally find some consistent home form. This Saturday Ipswich are the visitors and another performance like last night and we have a good chance to grab another vital 3 points.